New guidance has been issued for religious services following today's meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Ireland's Covid-19 response.
The committee decided that an assessment should be carried out for each premises to determine how many people can attend while maintaining the required social distance of two metres.
Should the premises allow for a capacity of greater than 50 then this will be permitted so long as certain criteria are met.
The criteria include:
- Social distancing guidelines are adhered to
- The premises can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section
- There is a minimum of 4m between sections
- Each section having its own entrance/exit route
- There are separate arrangements for elements of the service involving close contact, e.g. the distribution of Holy Communion
- Strictly no movement of people between sections before, during or after the service
- The premises is well-ventilated.
Consideration must also be given to the risk of people congregating outside the building before and after services.
Arrangements should be made for staggered exiting following the conclusion of ceremonies.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin welcomed today's guidelines saying that parishes will work diligently to observe the new norms to ensure people can attend mass safely.
He asked parishioners to note that the use of face coverings is strongly recommended for such indoor settings.
Archbishop Martin said that the guidelines are important steps forward and vital for the common good of all.